The Oman Ship Management Company (OSMC), a subsidiary of Oman Shipping Company (OSC), spent over US$1mn last year on armed private security contractors to guard its vessels against Somali-based pirates in the Sea of Oman and Northern Arabian Sea.
The disclosure was made by Captain Andrew Boyce, senior manager of safety and marine at OSMC, on Tuesday on the second day of the TransOman conference, adding that the vast number of private contractors in the market made it difficult to ensure that firms recruited to protect commercial shipping operate to the highest standards.
He said, “Last year we spent over US$1mn on armed guards on our fleet. The cost of a recent two-week deployment of three private armed guards on one of our vessels was US$96,000. This is a lot of money.
“There are around 200 security companies, with many employees who just want to shoot and kill. There are big issues with putting armed guards on civilian ships.”
Determining whether a vessel needed an embarked security team was made on a case-by-case basis, the exception being LPG carriers operated by OSMC, which carry a team of four private security contractors on board.
The disembarking of personnel currently posed a problem, as most ports in Oman were unwilling to allow the movement of armed guards through their facilities. “At the moment they have to disembark off port limits in Muscat. It is just not an option to get them off at Sohar or Salalah,” said Boyce.
Boyce added that it was hoped the private security industry would be brought under the control of the Omani government and all armed guards employed to protect vessels would be Omani nationals.
“We are in talks with the Oman government to Omanise this business. These are only early steps but is something that could be very positive. I hope we can bring it under the control of the government,” he said.
This article was posted by Neptune Maritime Security via zawya.com. MaritimeSecurity.Asia in cooperation with www.neptunemaritimesecurity.com